Asbestos was heavily used to produce insulation materials due to its natural resistance to heat and flame. Since asbestos is a known carcinogen, this puts insulators – those who work with insulation materials – at a high risk of developing cancer and other diseases due to exposure to asbestos.
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness as an insulator or someone in a field that involves insulation, you may be eligible for financial compensation. The asbestos attorneys at Bailey & Glasser, LLP can help you determine your rights as a victim. We understand this significant health hazard for insulation workers and are dedicated to pursuing justice for clients.
What Diseases Are Connected to Asbestos Exposure?
Asbestos is dangerous because it can become lodged in the inner tissues of the body if inhaled or ingested. When microscopic asbestos fibers or particles enter the body, they can get stuck in areas such as the mesothelium, or the protective membrane that surrounds many organs. Over time, these particles can cause enough irritation and scar tissue to result in cancerous tumors or other health issues.
Diseases connected to asbestos exposure include:
- Bronchial cancer
- Chronic bronchitis
- Diffuse pleural thickening
- Esophageal cancer
- Lung cancer
- Lung scarring
- Pleural effusion
- Pleural plaques
- Pulmonary fibrosis
Many of these conditions impact the lungs or respiratory system due to a victim inhaling asbestos fibers. However, many different areas of the body can be affected by asbestos exposure. The amount of time between the date that an insulator is exposed to asbestos and the development of a related illness can be significant, with the average latency period being 20-60+ years. This can make it difficult to trace an illness back to occupational exposure as an insulator.
Asbestos Use in Insulation Products
Asbestos was confirmed as carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 1987. Up until that point, however, it was relied upon as an important ingredient in numerous consumer products and building materials, including most types of insulation due to its natural flame resistance. Vermiculite insulation, for example, contained asbestos and was used in numerous products that are still found in attics today. Dust from asbestos-containing insulation products could put insulators and other workers at risk.
Types of insulation that often contain asbestos include:
- Air-cell insulation
- Asbestos wool insulation
- Block or slab insulation
- Felt insulation
- Loose-fill insulation
- Pipe and ductwork insulation
- Plastic insulation
- Rolled insulation wrappings
- Spray-on insulation
- Valve insulation jackets
- Zonolite insulation
The presence of asbestos in insulation materials puts many decades of insulators at risk of exposure. This risk still continues today for insulators who work in older buildings. According to a study in Sweden published in the National Library of Medicine in 2016, the rate of pleural mesothelioma (cancer of the lining that surrounds the lungs) was more than 10 times higher for insulators compared to the general population. This is because insulators are exposed to asbestos-containing insulation materials at a much higher rate than the average person.
The Risk of Asbestos Exposure to Insulators
Throughout the 1900s, insulators and anyone who worked with or around insulation products were heavily exposed to asbestos. Asbestos was widely used as an ingredient in insulation materials, which were then installed in many homes, commercial buildings, boilers, machinery, manufacturing facilities and ships. Today, any insulator who works in old buildings (those built before 1990) or shipyards could be exposed to asbestos-containing insulation.
The average insulator works with asbestos often. These workers should not, however, suffer from unprotected exposure to asbestos. It is an employer’s responsibility to protect insulators from health risks associated with asbestos through measures such as personal protective equipment and gear, as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. If an insulator works in a dangerous environment without protection from asbestos exposure, he or she could suffer related health consequences.
Examples of negligence that could expose an insulator to asbestos include an employer failing to provide proper protective gear to workers, a lack of worksite inspections, failure to contain asbestos products and materials at a worksite, and improperly disposing of asbestos waste. These issues could put a worker at an increased risk of coming into contact with asbestos on the job. If a worker does develop mesothelioma or another health issue connected to occupational asbestos exposure, he or she may have grounds to file a lawsuit.
Who Is Liable for an Insulator’s Exposure to Asbestos?
Insulators who have been diagnosed with illnesses connected to asbestos exposure may have the right to file lawsuits against multiple parties, such as manufacturers who used asbestos in their insulation products or employers who failed to protect their insulators. Injured workers as well as family members who lost a loved one to mesothelioma may be eligible to file a claim.
Types of asbestos claims include personal injury lawsuits, wrongful death claims, workers’ compensation claims and asbestos trust fund claims. Determining who is liable, or legally and financially responsible, for an insulation worker’s asbestos-related disease may take an investigation into the exposure incident.
Employers have a legal responsibility to protect insulators from asbestos exposure, such as by providing personal protective equipment. Any breach or violation of this duty of care could lead to an employer being held liable. Another possibility is holding the manufacturer of the asbestos insulation liable. There is a long list of manufacturers of these products that have faced lawsuits. An attorney can help you determine your legal rights as a victim of asbestos exposure.
Contact Us Today
Insulators are high-risk workers in terms of exposure to asbestos and related health problems. If you or a loved one was exposed to this toxic material due to an occupation dealing with insulation, you may be entitled to financial compensation. An attorney from Bailey & Glasser, LLP can review your case at no cost or obligation. During a free case consultation, we will listen to your story and let you know if your case has merit.
No worker should be exposed to a dangerous substance such as asbestos on the job. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness as an insulator, contact us at (866) 871-7971 to discuss your rights. We are here to help you through this difficult time.